Rainbow Beef in Lettuce Cups

Jean Cazals
This dish is great for a dinner party. Each guest puts a helping of each ingredient into a hollow lettuce leaf and eats it with their fingers. Serve with a bowl of hoisin sauce.

  • 450g (1lb) minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 15g (1/2 oz) Chinese dried mushrooms
  • 100g (4oz) carrots
  • 100g (4oz) bamboo shoots
  • 100g (4oz) courgettes
  • 100g (4oz) red pepper (about 1)
  • 225g (8oz) iceberg lettuce
  • 300ml (10fl oz) groundnut or vegetable oil
  • 25g (1oz) bean thread (transparent) noodles

For the stirfry sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2-3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • salt and black pepper

Put the minced beef into a bowl, together with the rice wine, light soy sauce, sesame oil and cornflour. Mix well and let it marinate for about 20 minutes.

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, then drain them and squeeze out any excess liquid. Trim off the stems and shred the caps into 5cm (2in) long strips. Meanwhile peel the carrots and cut into fine shreds 5cm (2in) long. Cut the bamboo shoots, courgettes and peppers into similar fine shreds. Separate and wash the lettuce leaves, wiping off any excess water, and set them aside.

In a large wok or a deep-fat fryer, heat the 300ml (10fl oz) of oil until it is slightly smoking. Deep-fry the noodles until they are crisp and puffed up, then drain them on kitchen paper. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the oil -- the rest can be cooled and kept for future use.

Put 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil into a very hot wok or frying pan, and when it begins to smoke, stir-fry the beef mixture for about 1 minute. Remove the beef and put it into a bowl. Wipe the wok or pan clean.

Reheat the wok or pan over a high heat, and when it is hot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When it is smoking slightly, add the garlic, shallots and spring onions and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Then add the shredded carrots and stir-fry for another minute. Now add the remaining vegetables (except the lettuce), along with the soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir-fry the mixture for 3 minutes, then return the beef to the mixture and stir so that it is just coated. Turn on to a platter. Arrange the lettuce and noodles on separate platters, put some hoisin sauce into a small bowl, and serve at once.
Cook time: 
4-6 servings
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